The FINANCIAL — With 830 women dying every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, and over 16,000 children under age five dying daily, Bayer and the White Ribbon Alliance today released critical policy recommendations and launched community programs to support the reduction and prevention of maternal, newborn and child mortality in two developing countries.
Established through a three-year $1.3 million commitment from Bayer, these programs will expand work conducted by White Ribbon Alliance in Bangladesh and Zimbabwe to support the United Nations Secretary General’s Every Woman Every Child movement.
This announcement comes at the one-year anniversary of the Bayer/White Ribbon Alliance commitment in support of the Every Woman Every Child movement and will contribute to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals, according to Bayer.
The programs will help underserved women and their families gain the self-care knowledge, skills and confidence to take charge of their personal and family health before, during and after childbirth – throughout a lifetime. The implementation effort, led by White Ribbon Alliance, will focus on critical health issues and barriers to care, including nutrition, prevention and minor treatments; hygiene; and self-care policy advancement and advocacy.
“Self-care is the very foundation of health care and, if implemented properly, it can ease the burden on overstretched health systems, reducing costs and increasing effectiveness,” said Kemal Malik, MD, Member of the Board of Management, Bayer AG. “When self-care is prioritized and women have access to health literacy information, it has enormous potential to make a measurable impact on the health of women, newborns and children that can last for generations.”
The partnership is a key step in Bayer’s commitment to advance self-care for all, as outlined in public policy recommendations today released by White Ribbon Alliance and Bayer. The policy paper underscores the potential of self-care to drive forward recommended global policies and interventions.
“Prioritizing self-care supports women to be at the center of health solutions, rather than passive users of the system. This partnership is an important step forward in making that a reality for all mothers, everywhere,” said Betsy McCallon, CEO, White Ribbon Alliance.
“The women and families that will benefit from these programs do not have access to quality health services or emergency care and are in dire need of support,” said Farhana Ahmad, MBBS, National Coordinator, White Ribbon Alliance, Bangladesh. “Multi-stakeholder partnerships like the one between Bayer and White Ribbon Alliance are vital to implementing community-level programs that educate, empower and instill self-care practices for a lifetime.”
Previous self-care efforts have not achieved broad reform, focusing instead on disease-specific or physician-specific initiatives. But self-care must start more broadly and focus on the individual in order to be effective for long-term health impact personally, societally and across generations.
The partnership and its focus on self-care will contribute to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals. Dr. David Nabarro, Special Adviser of the UN Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change, noted, “Given that universal health coverage is one of our collective goals for the next 15 years, we all need to think very carefully about how to achieve this target with an eye to ensuring the sustainability of health outcomes. That’s why investments in self-care can enable everyone to achieve greater health and perhaps reduce demands on healthcare systems.”
Calling for policy action at all levels
Bayer and White Ribbon Alliance also have outlined the systemic and structural changes necessary in global, national and local health policy systems to address obstacles to self-care in maternal newborn and child health and to integrate self-care into health systems. The partnership stressed the need for a supportive government and community environment that empowers women to trust themselves, know their rights and take actions to improve their health and that of their community.
By continuing to implement cross-sector partnerships, Bayer and White Ribbon Alliance will work with governments and key influencers to recognize and support the benefits of self-care initiatives while helping to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.